Verbal Sparring: Tony Lopez (King of the Cage Double Champion)

JT:  You’ve had quite a year.  You won the KOTC Heavyweight title in July in Wisconsin, and now the Light Heavyweight title three months later.  How does it feel to be a double champion?

TL:  It’s kinda weird, because I don’t feel it until I talk to people.  Or when they find out I got the [Light Heavyweight title], they’re like “you got two belts?”  So then I have to tell everybody about the fight and I start feeling it the more I say it – “I got two belts.”  And it feels good.  Every time I say something or talk about it, it starts kicking in more and more.  But it’s a good feeling.

JT:  You join a very select group.  You and Dan Henderson are the only people to win two titles in larger, more recognized organizations?  It says something about you and King of the Cage.

TL:  Yeah, it’s awesome.  I was hoping Terry would give me this opportunity, to try and get both, and I’m just so grateful that he did.  So now it’s time to show my face by giving better shows and upping my performance.  [To] go out there and make it more brutal and bang hard.

JT:  More brutal than your match with Joey Beltran?

TL:  A lot more!  Because it was good way to finish it, but there wasn’t enough action before that.  I was disappointed in that.  Not enough exchanges of blows and blood.  I want more of that.

JT:  Do you feel added pressure to perform as a fighter?

TL:  I’ve always put the same pressure on myself, whether I have a belt or not.  I gotta go out there and bang.  Now that I have the belt, I want to put on matches that reflect the prestige [the belt] deserves.  I gotta make my wins a lot cleaner and smoother.  I’ve got to make it look effortless.  I gotta show what a champ’s all about.  A double champ!

JT:  How will making weight for two different weight classes affect your training & diet?  Will you monitor your walk around weight differently?

TL:  My normal weight is about 214 lbs.  That’s normal for a light heavyweight because you normally drop about ten pounds or so [prior to weigh-ins].  I drop weight to 205; its nothing.  Now for a heavyweight, I just do what I normally do, weigh in at 214, and take care of business [laughs].

JT:  Would you bulk up if you faced guys closer to the super heavyweight range?

TL:  No, because normally, the guys that I fight are anywhere from 240 to 265.  I always weigh the same.  I think it’s going to make it easier for me when I go down to 205 because I’m used to bigger guys with 30-40 pounds on me.

JT:  Which weight class do you think is going to give you a tougher roster of opponents?

TL:  I don’t really look at the guys in my weight class because I don’t like to know about them.  Because it messes with my mind and my training.  As a matter of fact, with this last fight with Fernando [Gonzalez], I knew he had cornered Jon Brock, whom I fought in January, but I didn’t really know who he was.   I’d seen a few pictures of him, but in my head, I built him up to be this six foot tall . . . just a monstrous body on him, everything I could think of.  So that way, when I saw him and he was nothing like what I saw in my head, it made it a lot easier for me.

JT:  How do you want your defense schedule to play out?

TL:  I’d like to go back and forth.  It doesn’t matter which one comes first.

JT:  Over the past few matches, we’ve seen you bring your “Kryptonite” character to life.  Tell us a bit more what that’s about.

TL:  I want to create a character that people can see and think “he’s not from here; he just goes out there and whoops ass.  I don’t know how he does it or what he’s gonna do, but he does it.”  I’m trying to say Kryptonite is here – he’s gonna whip on anybody.  He’s like the monster from another planet . . . When he gets hit, he gets mad, stronger, and more vicious.  That’s when you don’t want to be in the cage with [Kryptonite].  There ain’t nobody you can put in there who’s gonna defeat him. 

JT:  Do you know when you’re fighting next?

TL:  Hopefully by mid-November, I’ll have an idea of what weight I’m fighting and with whom.

One more thing I wanted to say is that for this last fight, I was fit about five weeks out prior to it.  From that point up until the fight, I think I trained maybe only five or six times;  I was moving to a new area, a lot of things just came up, and didn’t have a place to go [to train].  The night before the fight, I got a fever and my voice was just sapped.  So that night, the fans all saw Kryptonite at his weakest point.

JT:  And he still came away with the gold.

TL:  The next time I come in [and defend the title], you’re gonna see a different fighter.  You’re going to see more quickness, more movement.

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